The Pointlessness of US Political Journalism
US political journalism just receive the coup de grace and the Beutler did it.
Brian Buetler wrote “Hillary Clinton’s Relationship With the Press Is Broken—and It Can’t Be Fixed.” This doesn’t sound very enthusiastic, but I think the article shows that the problem is much much worse than the title suggests.
Beutler asks whose fault it is that Clinton doesn’t hold press conferences. He risks his guild card by arguing that the main problem is that she (and he) know that reporters would ask stupid questions based on “their fixations on trivia and optics.”
But his examples are much more appalling than one might imagine. Consider
“questions to ask about hacked DNC emails and the resignation of party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz”, and “questions—about whether it was appropriate for the Clinton Foundation to operate as it did during her years at the State Department—and questions that could resolve lingering inconsistencies between her public statements about her email protocols and those of FBI Director James Comey. ”
Yes those are stupid questions about trivia and optics. They have nothing to do with policy. The issues will not be discussed in history books. I think it would be much better if she were asked about the facts that UnitedHealth and Aetna are cutting back health insurance offerings on the exchanges, the risk of an adverse selection death spiral, and what would she do about that if Congress refuses to enact a public option or Medicare buy in. Or what would she do about undocumented aliens. Or hey the globe is still warming — does she think Obama has done enough already ? I’d even settle for letting Matt Yglesias ask about nominal GDP targeting (because I am that desperate).
But the actually appalling thing is the quoted questions are Beutler’s examples of relatively substantive questions which he contrasts with the ones based on “trivia and optics.” Yes e-mail server protocols are as close as he can imagine the political press getting to issues which matter for ordinary people. The best questions he hopes address insider baseball, pseudo scandals and issues raised by GOP oppo researchers. He is a lot younger than I am, but he isn’t naive enough to imagine that policy proposals might be discussed at a press conference.
Also see two brilliant hard working young blogger/journalists writing about when Clinton will hold her next press conference.
The MSM is hopeless. Its only defense is that at least it is better than Twitter.
In my opinion Matthew Yglesias makes some good points despite his being a big Hillary supporter.
This issue could be as simple as Hillary and her people believing they have the election as good as won, so why rock the boat.
It’s also possible her handlers don’t believe she could handle the pressure of a real press conference. Friendly interviewers asking nerf-ball questions aren’t exactly stressful. Or informative.
As for the upcoming debate or debates, I seriously doubt if Trump will give her a bit of trouble. The man IS an intellectual flyweight.
Clinton walking 50 yards may be more frightening to the dems than a press conference where someone quoted the Federal Records Act and asked why Clinton violated* it.
*Obama entire regime been killing whistleblowers, denying FOIA and otherwise recording criminal activities. On FRA GS’ are supposed to review it every year to make sure their e-mails are properly “filed”.
I think she should do it sooner than later. Yeah, questions will be trivial and stupid, but if she cannot handle this sort of tripe, then indeed DT might actually give her a problem in the debate, unlike the certitude of ZS here. That this is becoming a talking point on Fox News means she needs to squelch it by having a p.c., however silly and pointless, just to take it off the table.
“she were asked about the facts that UnitedHealth and Aetna are cutting back health insurance offerings on the exchanges, the risk of an adverse selection death spiral, and what would she do about that if Congress refuses to enact a public option or Medicare buy in.”
Robert, the majority of people and most educated people have no idea why insurance is pulling out. If you do, why not state it? The issue is and has been the rising cost of healthcare which outstrips insurance increases in any one year.
It is time to control healthcare costs and establish like many European countries have a two tiered system.
The majority of people don’t know anything about anything, apparently. And it’s not like Obama’s tried to make a dent in that–not just about healthcare but about anything. I get that fireside chats are passe. But how about campaign-style rallies, at which he explains, well, anything complex?
This has been the worst possible era for Dems to be saddled with a president who can’t be bothered with such things as educating the public about critical facts and policy issues. But that’s what we’ve had for the last nearly-eight years.
I’m guessing that that’s what we’ll have for the next four or eight, too.
You seem to forget something, the PPACA was never Obama’s Healthcare Act, It was written by Congress without Republican participation. It was done this way so as to avoid what happened with Hillarycare or a bill written by the Presidential staff. There was many time Obama went to the front to sell and support the PPACA only to have what was said to be taken out of context such as you can keep your doctor, etc. The fight was fought then and still is now.
What we will have is what you make of it. Either you can learn about it so when you come out here what you present is accurate or you can do like you are doing now, construing what has happen to suit yourself.
Actually, I was by no means thinking only about the ACA. One particular thing I had in mind was Obama’s adoption in 2011 of the “families are tightening their belts, so the federal government should, too” nonsense, rather than refuting the claim and explaining basic Keynesian fiscal economics. As for the ACA, though, why should he not have refuted the cascade of lies about it, just because it was drafted mostly by Congress? (The administration did play some role in drafting it, but mainly it was drafted in Congress.)
But I also had in mind the many things the public holds misconceptions about– like that the debt has increased during the Obama years, and that the unemployment rate has increased or remained about the same during the Obama administration, and that the crime rate or the murder rate is higher now than when Obama took office.
There are many, many things of this sort that Obama could illustrate with statistics or just an explanation (like Keynesian economics) are the opposite of what a majority of the public believes, but he hasn’t troubled himself to do that.
No one else seems to have said it so far, so I will:
Great post. Thanks.
Yup. What JimV said!
Exactly, Robert. Appalling.
Ever notice that intelligent discourse faded in step with the vanishing of fireplaces? The FDR fireside chats were a last harkng back to fire-based intelligence.
Fires need to be built, tended, and watched. Fires are intentional, and they draw people together. Their movement and sound establish them as the third participant in any fireside conversation. And their cryptic contributions make space for new thoughts in the flow of speech, and in the silences. And, as with human participants, a fire, however well behaved, commands respect, and demands attention.
As artificial light, TVs and computer screens have replaced the noble flame, and gas BBQs even elbowed out the campfire, so too have we lost thought, speech, silences, attention and respect.
Light that fire, my friends, and maybe we can kindle human thought again, rather than shamefully Kindleing yet another trashy novel.